Photos by Kirstie Shanley.
There weren't a lot of bands that were talked about last year as much as Long Beach natives Crystal Antlers. They stick out in the rush of "crystal bands" that bombarded the indie circuit. They definitely have set themselves apart from the rest of the crystal pack. Their self released debut, (simply named EP) tireless tour schedule and unique sound paid off. They were picked up on Touch and Go/Quarterstick last fall and have acquired a following from word of mouth reputation. The band played Wednesday night at the Empty Bottle to a packed crowd following local band Bird Talk and Brooklyn's Vivian Girls.
The set started out with a few songs from EP and then the soulful "Andrew" from their new full length album, Tentacles. It was a slow, drone-y mess mixed with a powerful vocal energy Crystal Antlers are known for. They never allowed silence in their set, even after vocalist Jonny Bell stopped scream/singing. The echos of his voice, a raspy scream were still ringing in the room until the next song pushed it out. Bell has the gift and curse of taking us to the place where his scream is coming from.
They played songs from Tentacles, but they didn't make a point of telling the titles of the songs. They were too in to playing, obviously enjoying every minute. It was hard not to enjoy them too. A band with two drummers (one of them who goes by the name "Sexual Chocolate") is difficult not to enjoy just by that factor alone. Never mind that they are skilled musicians with an aggressive stage presence.
The band played "A Thousand Eyes", their most known song that messes with time signature in the middle of the set, leaving room to explore newer songs, that left the realm of psych inspired low-fi and moved towards a more progressive/post rock sound that concluded the night. They numbed the audience, like a musical paralytic with a long instrumental and then vanished and left the stage. No encore was requested because I think most people weren't aware that the show was over. I felt like I was their prey, but pretty good afterwards. It was anticlimactic, but the perfect ending that you didn't know had happened.
The Crystal Antlers are an incredibly intense band to see live, even though last night's show failed to compare to when they played the bottle last October. (I left shaking a bit.) it was still a great experience. They have a passion for playing that shows long lasting staying power. What else could you expect from a band that has toured obsessively for over a year? Their tour as listed on their myspace page goes until the end of August.
See more pictures of the Crystal Antlers show, including shots of the Vivian Girls all shot by Kirstie Shanley, at the Gapersblock: Transmission Flickr page.